Belfast Telegraph

Check website for working hours rules

QUESTION: Can you advise on regulations surrounding holidays, rest breaks and working hours relating to staff?

Joanne Best from Invest NI’s business improvement services team replies:

Your workers' hours are governed by the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998. You can find out about these on the Department for Employment and Learning’s website (

These cover: holiday entitlement, the maximum average working week, the right to rest breaks during the working day, the right to rest periods between working days, and hours when

working at night. Assuming your employees are 18 and over they are entitled to a minimum of 4.8 weeks' holiday a year, (rising to 5.6 weeks

from April 2009 inclusive of customary holidays) and should work no more than six days out of every seven, or 12 out of every 14.

They should get a 20-minute break if they work more than six hours and should not work more than a 48-hour average week.

Exemptions to some of these rules apply to certain sectors and in particular circumstances, for example, in emergencies or exceptionally busy periods.

You should agree these exemptions with

your employees.

The rules are slightly different for younger workers and exemptions will usually not apply to them.

To make sure you comply with the regulations, you need to monitor and keep records of your workers' hours.

It’s also important when planning shift work to be aware of the rules around Sunday and night working.

You will find an explanation of the rules around working hours, rest breaks and the working week on the ‘Employing people’ section of www.nibusiness|

The site also has some useful tools to help you calculate annual leave entitlement and working hours.

QUESTION: I need to pull together a comprehensive and detailed business plan which will persuade investors that my company is a good bet. Help!

Catriona Regan, operations director, InterTradeIreland, replies:

The business plan is the most important document for a company seeking to attract investment. It should demonstrate what the business opportunity is, the amount of funds required to deliver the business plan, and a management team capable of implementing it.

Investors read numerous business plans from a wide range of sources so their first impression of your business plan will determine whether they take their interest any further. The Business Cube, (a Business Planning guide which InterTradeIreland has recently licensed) shows how to put together an attractive plan for potential investors.

It is a simple, intuitive tool which outlines the key information components investors look for.

You can access the Business Cube on

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